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Fun death/thrash stuff - 73%

Noktorn, June 30th, 2010

Imagine if, at the time of recording 'Eaten Back To Life', the members of Cannibal Corpse were really, really jamming on Kreator a lot. There you go: you now have BK 49's 'Join The Dead'. As precise as this analogy may sound, it's absolutely true: BK 49 is perhaps the first band I've heard attempting to ape Cannibal Corpse's somewhat forgotten debut. In this case, the German band has understandably taken influence from their homeland in addition to the early US death sound, but additionally smooths out that oldschool sound with some delicate modern touches, such as odd guitar layering and some interesting songwriting ideas. This is definitely a release for the oldschool death/thrashers among us, and even to someone like me it's not half bad.

These songs are pretty much Slayer songs: riff to riff, solo, breakdown, solo, close. It's simple but extremely effective in this case; the very thrashy tremolo riffs lend themselves easily towards sudden breakdowns into crunchy, early hardcore-derived rhythms, but the enhanced speed (owing to the year of release) amps this past your typical retro thrash band. The riffs are a very solid blend of US death metal and Kreator/Sodom worship, along with some surprisingly memorable solos and clever melodic work ala Grave on tracks like 'Death Is The Crown Of Creation'. Vocals are sort of a blend of old Cannibal Corpse and new Vader- gruff and throaty but with highs straight from the throat of Chris Barnes. While BK 49 rarely breaks into a full blast, the neck-snapping thrash beats and pounding, almost Bolt Thrower-derived double bass passages are brutal enough on their own.

BK 49 is really good about knowing when to keep churning out a groove and when to move on to the next riff; the songs never seem to move in a circular fashion or repeat for repetition's sake. Moreover, all the riffs and song sections the band comes up with are great, with a varied sense of delivery and great creativity in the guitar/vocal interplay. The drumming in particular is great- not due to astounding technicality, but just from the playfulness and enthusiasm with which the skins are beaten. Other drummers are better, but no one's having more fun behind the kit than Marc-Andrée Dieken. While the music might occasionally drag on some of the longer tracks, the music is overall admirably paced and doesn't grate on the listener or overstay its welcome.

This is a neat little death/thrash record by a band that doesn't seem to have made its way very far out of their homeland. It's unfortunate that these guys broke up: 'Join The Dead' is a really fun record that more people should have gotten to hear before the band's untimely demise. We hardly knew ye because ye had bad distribution.